Post-chemo verdict

26 September

“You’ve had a complete response.”

I was hoping to hear these words when I saw my oncology consultant. Really hoping. I was diagnosed in May, I finished my last chemotherapy session on September 14th and had my ‘end of chemo’ CT scan on the 20th. So I sat down to hear the news, and…

My consultant was beaming. The scan results were good. Very good. 100% good. In fact it was those magic words: “You’ve had a complete response to treatment.”

What this means is that the cancer sites that were in my bladder, the lymph glands in the pelvic region, on my liver and in a lung have all either disappeared or shrunk to the point where they are no longer considered ‘pathological’ – they are basically left-over scar tissue. This is a continuation of how things were going at the halfway stage in my chemo course, when my consultant said he’s never seen a response so great.

As my consultant said today, this doesn’t mean it couldn’t come back – but it has retreated so dramatically that the original ‘terminal’ prediction may now be an unknown. (He rightly says this depends on more factors and can’t really be determined without a longer period of observation, but it’s still very good.)

He’s still not convinced that the response (which is borderline unprecedented, in terms of ‘not seen it so good’) is in any way due to the cannabis I’ve been taking. His view is that in the absence of extensive clinical trials (which are hard to conduct with something illegal in so many places) he can’t give it any credit. I can’t fault his logic of course, but, from my view, the details of the disease response very closely match the things I’ve read in so many different places, and the mechanics of how cannabinoids and the body’s endocannabinoid receptor system work together make a pretty compelling argument! I’ll keep taking notes – and I’ll keep taking the cannabis of course! – and maybe one day they will help establishing some clinical acceptance and further understanding.

The scan did show enlargements in another lymph gland away from where things had been seen, but the expert concensus is that it’s unrelated. I had some dramatic immune system complications from the chemo itself and was hospitalised with sepsis and pulmonary emboli last week. This went right through the day I had the CT scan, and so it is very likely the root cause of this specific change. I’ll have another scan in ten weeks to make sure, but it’s not a concern.

After this I’ll have a scan every three months for the next year, then – if nothing has come back by that point – it may step down to once every four months. I am technically not ‘cancer free’ of course; that takes years of negative results. But I’m working on it, and in the meantime…

Back to life, back to reality,
Back to the here and now, yeah!

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